Suddenly had to come out after death of partner of 17 years

I lost my partner of 17 years on Saturday morning. I got up and made coffee for myself and sat and scrolled through my phone, then went to the bedroom found him in bed. It was obvious straight away that he had gone at some point during the night.

I’m a 38 year old man and aside from his siblings and grandmother and some shared friends, my family and my colleagues at work had no idea about us. I then found myself having to come out to my family the following day, something I had I suppose thought I’d just avoid doing. It had become easier to just refer to him as my friend and to talk at work about “we did this…” “we went here…” when chatting about weekends and holidays, without going into detail.

My parents have been wonderful and my colleagues have too, but I’m feeling it hard to share with them having kept quiet about our relationship. I feel awkward sharing memories or talking about things we did, for fear that they’re doing their parental duty to support me, but inwardly might be feeling ill at ease. They’re very supportive of me, but I just don’t feel able to talk about the places we’ve gone, things we’ve done, or even him and how much I loved him and miss him. I feel I need to just get over this to be able to move on with the horrible feeling I have inside right now.

He suffered from many health conditions, affecting his lungs, and his breathing was becoming progressively worse. As a result he suffered enormously with panic attacks and anxiety, which exacerbated the breathing problems.

A month ago he lost his mum to cancer, which floored him. He has really struggled and I think the stress of it all, coupled with his poor health proved too much. We won’t know anything until after the post mortem, which leaves me feeling like I’m in a limbo for now. It’s utterly horrible and the idea of a future without him fills me with sadness and pain. We travelled the world together. He was a huge opera fan and we had been thinking about our summer trips and where we would go next. When we weren’t abroad or at weekends we’d travel around the UK and enjoy exploring different cities and just watching the world go by. The idea of not travelling again with him and spending weekends alone makes me feel absolutely bereft right now.

I know everyone is in similar circumstances and feeling similar pain, but I’m hoping that this will be a cathartic place to talk where I don’t feel such guilt for not having shared how much I loved him with anyone. I feel so alone and unable to share memories because I wasn’t brave enough to tell my family about him.


You can share here. I find that just the act of putting it into words helps. Never feel guilty of loving someone.


Thank you.

Absolutely. Just putting things down in words has been a huge help so far. It’s still very raw and I’m struggling enormously. When I’m alone with my thoughts it feels unbearable. We were our own little family, the two of us, so I’m really apprehensive about how the world will be now as I try to navigate through it alone.

Sitting here typing a reply is one of the few times I’m able to hold things together and not cry non stop.

Thank you again.


I am so sorry for the loss of your partner and that you are finding it difficult to share your feelings with your family and friends. It sounds like your parents and colleagues want to be supportive and hopefully they will understand.
This forum has helped me in the last couple of weeks, hopefully it will help you too. It is very early days for you. I understand about thinking of a future without him as that fills me with dread also x



Thank you for your message. It’s just a silly barrier in my head I need to get through. I’m finding speaking to people I don’t know online by far easier than people in person and I need to get past that so I can start to move on in real life.

I talk to myself constantly and am a crying mess when I do so. I keep texting him as well, which I don’t know whether it is helpful or a silly habit that I should avoid getting into.

I fell apart in the supermarket buying milk the other day because I realised I’d never send photos of things and ask if he wanted them for dinner or which thing he preferred. The little things have huge impacts. The realisation that I’ll have to shop for myself from now on and cook just for me makes me feel like there’s no point. That was one of the things we did together always and we spent ages reading recipes and buying books with new recipes to try.

I saw something funny on the television earlier that would have made him laugh and got all upset because it was the sort of thing I would ordinarily have texted him to laugh about. It’s those tiny little things that are part of your routine together that are the things that I’m struggling to square.

The idea of the weekend coming up and being alone, when we’d normally be together for its entirety is making me very anxious. I feel I want to be outside to get air and be able to breath, but when I leave the house I feel I’m just aimlessly going about without any purpose. I can’t envisage how I’ll ever get used to this new reality. It scares me so much.


Hello @Button1 . So sorry to hear you’ve lost your partner, and so recently, as well. It is a difficult time for anyone, but you have not shared your joy of finding a specific someone with many people, Maybe now is the time. Your family sound very supportive. Believe me, you are going to need that. You need people to recognise what you are going through, not least because this grieving goes on and on for a long time. You need people to stay the course with you. That’s where this site also helps. You can say anything to us. Read what others have written about. You will see you are not alone. We too know those feelings.



I always thought I would go through life never telling my parents . They’re both elderly now and I felt that they would perhaps struggle with being told (they’re fairly traditional and from small villages in the north of Scotland and are just quite sheltered I suppose) but the way that they are trying to support me makes me
So emotional. They both gave me a massive hug, when I saw them the other day, but beyond drinking lots of tea and chatting about my work, I’m finding it hard to talk about me and him. I really want to. My mum mentioned she would like to see photos, but every time I look through them I break down. Perhaps I feel a sense of shame in having hidden my life with him. Maybe I feel I let them down by not following the expected path in life. I can’t help feeling I’ve let them down and that it’s not fair to them to make them listen to me pour out my heart.

I feel it’s our own fault for having kept ourselves to ourselves. Or maybe he only did that because I was too scared to tell my family. I feel like I should be in touch with more of his family because they’ll be hurting as badly as I am, but I don’t know them really and I the idea of reaching out is so hard. His gran lost her daughter a few weeks ago, and now her eldest grandchild. She must be hurting so much more than me, and whilst her family are around her, I feel that after 17 years I should be too, but we’ve never met in person, only chatted sporadically via messages very rarely.

Maybe that will be my task for escaping the loneliness of the weekend. Trying to create those links that normal people would have set up already. I feel I’m cut off from everyone that I should be speaking to right now.

Thank you for your words.


@G1983 so sorry for your loss. I wouldn’t feel guilty sharing your feelings and memories with family & colleagues. I’m sure if they care about you they will do there best to support you. It’s only natural to lean on people when you are going through such an awful time. Of course this forum is the ideal place to share your thoughts, vent or just chat. Although all our journeys are different they all have so many similarities. Sending hugs.


@G1983 try not to be so hard on yourself. We all overthink about our situation but I think it’s important to take whatever help is being offered. I can relate to a lot of what you say about shopping, cooking, tv, travelling, photos. These are all things I shared with my husband and I too struggle with imagining a future without these. One day at a time is all we can do.


Thank you. They’ve all been wonderful at sending condolences and asking if they can do anything. I just keep replying with “thanks” and “I’m so grateful for your help right now” to all those taking on extra tasks at work, but can’t find it within me to accept the offers. I need to meet people for a coffee, or just a phone call even. I feel I’m going to make it harder than ever to go back to work if I don’t take those initial steps. Right now I don’t ever want to return. Maybe more because I’m afraid of the feeling of everyone talking about the poor bereaved closet case. I feel like a fool for having been so fearful. If I had been more open then this wouldn’t be so hard. I would be able to speak to people openly and share memories with people who would know him, like would be the case had we been a husband and wife. I feel my own cowardice has trapped me in a world of grief that I’m going to struggle to get out of.


I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m 38 and lost my partner of 17 years ten weeks ago. It’s so cruel to lose the person we’ve spent most of our adult lives with at such a young age :broken_heart:

I can’t imagine how much harder it is when nobody knew about your relationship :broken_heart:
I hope if you do reach out to his family that you get the support you need. Perhaps they will find comfort in getting to know you better and listening to the happy times you shared together. I struggle to talk about my partner at the minute. It’s still too raw, I do hope one day I’ll be able to speak about him without crying because he was awesome. He had such a wicked sense of humour and I’ve got so many funny memories of him. It’s just too soon.

I also find it easier to speak to people online than I do in person. I feel like most people expect you to just be ok a few weeks after your loss and obviously we won’t be “ok” for a very long time, if ever. Losing a partner is a different kind of grief to any other and only someone who has been through it themselves can understand.


I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s nearly 6 weeks since I lost my wife and this is a truly supportive place where you can reach out at any time until you are ready in person.


This place has been such a help, even after posting for the first time just yesterday. I was able to talk much more openly with my parents today and then met a work colleague for a cup of tea. It has made such a difference being able to talk about our memories with others a little more. I’m so full of regret at having hidden our life away. I feel people will think I didn’t feel I was able to share with them, and also feel bad for him that he may have felt I didn’t want people to know about him. I shall forever regret not sharing our relationship with others. They would have loved him. When showing photos, everyone has said he looked so kind and friendly. It filled me with pride but also sadness that they’ll never know him like I did. And it reminds me that our adventures and experiences have come to an end.

I’ve just made another cup of tea. Getting from one cup of tea to the next. Breaking the day once I’m back home alone into tiny, baby steps.

I’m so grateful for having found this space. :heart:


I am so sorry for your loss.
I lost my wife after being together 38 years.
I came out to my famy ehen I invited them to our civil ceremony which was 25 years in.
What matters is not who or when you came out but the love you shared between you and how you manage this difficult time of se ete grief.
I am on z couple of other sites too.
On Facebook eiddows and widdowets uk.
Also way up.
Senfing healing hugs
Tracey xx


I’m so glad you’re starting to talk about you’re partner now.
Try not to blame yourself for not letting them know about your relationship.
Their willingness to talk about him seems to show they need this as much as you.
I lost my wife, Isobel, after a fall.
We were together 21 years.
She was only 53.
She died of hospital acquired pneumonia after being put on a ventilator.
I lost her, last April 20, 2023 and it has got easier over time.
Please take care of you :two_hearts:

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Thank you. My family have been so supportive. They are in touch every day. My parents have visited for a few days and my brother and I had some time together just walking and chatting trying to feel “normal” for a while, forgetting about all the awfulness of the last couple of weeks

I’ve started seeing work colleagues for coffee or dinner, which has been helpful. They also keep me distracted and because they didn’t know about him I’ve been able to share memories a little and reflect upon things with them

I still feel really bad for not having opened up about our life. Everyone keeps saying that they knew, respected the fact I was private and are just glad I was happy, but I can’t help feeling it would be easier if I had been more open.

Only my immediate work colleagues know. When previously people had lost partners suddenly there was more of a “big deal” with an email letting everyone know, which I suppose makes sense so that people can be supportive and don’t ask insensitive questions. I said I didn’t want that, partly I suppose because I didn’t want everyone suddenly knowing about us we having kept it quiet, but I’m now starting to feel that it’s probably better that it filters out, so that the many others who I’m sure would love to offer their support can do so. I have a lot of close colleagues who I probably do want them to know, but I’m just very mindful of gossip. (I’m a secondary school teacher, so I just feel guarded about my personal life for obvious reasons).

I spend my days talking to him still, or texting him. Which has been quite helpful. I let him know what I’ve managed to do, or where I’ve been. The other day I went to the beach front, somewhere he spent a lot of time just escaping and thinking. I texted him saying I hoped I’d see him there. It’s been nice and sunny lately. The blue skies and the sun feel like a help to me. I look up and imagine he’s watching me trying to “exist” as best I can. I still can’t believe he’s not with me. It’s horrendous coming home and him not being there, and the future fills me with dread and anxiety, but I’m trying to keep busy each day with some activity to get me out and about and to see people.

Thank you


Thank you.

I’m trying to look after myself. I’ve never been someone who shares a lot with friends or colleagues. They know that I’m quiet and keep myself to myself and are good about not pushing things. I wish I had had the confidence to share more. I keep thinking about all the wonderful things we did and I smile thinking about the holidays and trips we took together. I wish they had known him at his best and that I still had that to look forwards to.

We spent almost 17 years together and we were in our own little routine. We spent all our time together at weekends and during the school holidays from my work. I think that’s what’s so hard. I’ve not got that now and everything seems so empty and without anything to look forwards to. The weekends will be hard but the holidays more so. I’ll need to find things to get out of the house. I can’t sit here all day alone. It’s already getting to me, but I live in the town where I work and don’t want to be out and about for fear of bumping into pupils being that I’ve been off work since this happened.

I’m so lucky everyone is so supportive and I’ve been given time and freedom to try to work through this as best I can. It’s still so new and raw, but talking and typing and messaging has been an enormous help to me.

There are still very teary moments and until we get the post mortem results I think I still feel a bit in shock. I worry that this will change to more upset when we get those results. It will feel like moving on to the next stage and being able to arrange the funeral will bring greater emotions and feelings I’m sure.

One day at a time.

Sorry for what you are going through. Come here and say whatever you feel. You loved each other simple as that and now he isn’t here. Lots of love :heart:

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That’s entirely it. He was everything. Besides work, I’d come home to him on a Friday and that was it until Monday morning again.

We argued and fell out over silly things, like anyone. I wish I could take all those back now and tell him how much he meant to me. I wish I had told him more often recently how much he meant. If I had known one random morning I’d never be able to hug him again or tell him, I would have made sure he knew every single
second of the day.


I am so sorry for your loss and being on this group support does help and makes you realise you are not alone and you can share anything and everything as we have all been there and going through what you are going through right now.
I lost my partner of 38 years on the 1st March 2023 and I cry everyday and feel so lost still. It is still so raw but I carry on one day at a time. When he passed I didn’t want to wake up in the morning and even contemplated suicide but with support I decided I am going to live my life for us! Stewart and myself!
You are doing well because you have reached out to the group.
Sending love and massive hugs to you and I wish you all the very best :heart: